The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

We already know how important the gut is to the health and functioning of the body.  (Find my article A Healthy Gut in 4 Steps: This Week In Paleo here)

But did you know that the gut doesn’t just determine the health of our digestion or immune system but even the health of our brains and our offspring?

In fact, evidence is mounting that the microbiome (that collection of bacteria, fungi, and other creatures who colonize the colon, skin, etc) may determine whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, and may play a role in the development of autism in young children, among other things.

If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or have a young child, these are important things you should know. 

The Microbiome and Pregnancy

Before birth, the mother’s microbiome actually changes to produce extra lactobacillus (which helps the baby digest milk) as well as several other bacteria that give the infant an important start in the world, helping with their immune systems and digestion, as well as several other things.

These bacteria coat the vaginal wall in preparation for the infant’s trip through the birth canal.

However,  some mothers are placed on antibiotics while pregnant.  They are sometimes important but these broad spectrum antibiotics destroy both negative and positive bacteria, meaning fewer bacteria overall for the baby.

It is wise to seek a doctor with a well-rounded view and respect for the microbiome, one who is careful with prescriptions of antibiotics, especially during pregnancy.

The Journey of Birth

When it comes time to give birth, the journey through the birth canal is one of the most important moments for the microbiological quantity and quality of an infant.

That trip through the birth canal is vitally important for a new baby.  The microbiome of the vaginal wall infiltrates the babies mouth, eyes, ears, and gets into every mucous membrane, rapidly providing the important first colonization.

However, many babies are now born via cesarean section and therefore are not colonized by the bacteria on the vaginal wall, but rather by the skin of whoever they first spend time touching.  This is significant because the microbiota of the skin is different than what is present in a healthy gut.  

If C-sections are necessary (and they often are, though the medical community is beginning to admit they have historically been overused for many reasons) then many women are requesting or performing vaginal swabs to the mucous membranes of infants just after birth so that the infants can be colonized by the mother’s microbiome.

It might sound weird, but this could prove to be a vitally important procedure for the health, immune system, and psychology of children.

Since pregnant women spend nine months building this special colony for their baby, it’s a shame not to be able to pass it on, and may one day be shown to be quite damaging to the infant.  

Early Childhood

The first three years of life are vitally important for development of a child, especially their microbiome but many children experience ear infections early in life, or other issues which may be prescribed antibiotics.  

Studies on rats have shown that those kept sterile or “germ-free” develop social anxiety, even autistic-like features, as well as a penchant towards obesity and other diseases.

Not only that, but with animals from conventional farms being fed antibiotics to both prevent illness and promote fat storage, we are all are inadvertently consuming antibiotics through food when we eat conventional meat.  

Though there are times when antibiotics are necessary and can be lifesaving, it is generally agreed upon that they have been historically overused, often with little to no benefit and, it is being discovered, more and more detriment. In many cases, the condition would go away in time and may not even be a bacterial infection.

According to many medical professionals, it is often difficult to discern whether an issue is bacterial or a virus.  Because many doctors receive pressure from patients for relief or are determined to “cover their bases”, antibiotics have been overprescribed.  Pair that with the overuse of germ-killing products like hand sanitizer and it’s clear why there has been such a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can be deadly.

Probiotics

Most of us were probably placed on antibiotics at some point which threw our microbiome out of whack.  

And it’s important for us to work with the best information and knowledge we have to try to put a healthy gut back together. 

As adults, early childhood issues of the microbiome promote a range of conditions including obesity, diabetes, and associated illnesses, as well as diseases of the gut like Chron’s, and autoimmune conditions, allergies, and the like.

Psychologically there is growing evidence that an affected microbiome can stimulate anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

In several studies, as well as my work anecdotally, probiotics do seem to help many people improve mood, digestion, and symptoms of illnesses and conditions like irritable bowl syndrome. 

For those with depression and anxiety, I think it makes sense to take a probiotic and for anyone- children and adults- who have had to use rounds of antibiotics, I think it is valuable to take a probiotic.

The probiotics used in most supplements are those with heavy research backing their efficacy.  It’s hard to know just how much bacteria actually gets through the stomach acid with these probiotics, but several have special coatings to hopefully help them reach the colon intact.

I particularly like this probiotic for adults (find it here).  Though it has fewer colonies, it is supposed to be more effective, remaining intact through the stomach and small intestine so that it can reach the colon.

This is a probiotic recommended for children (find it here).  As with anything with kids, please make sure you get your doctor’s OK before giving these to your child.

Remember that a healthy diet is vital for the health of the gut as well.  As much as I’d love it, we can’t just take a supplement and be done with it.

If you’ve had success with probiotic therapy, I’d love to hear from you!  Which ones have worked for you?  Which haven’t?  And what have you done to improve your microbiome?

 

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Fruit Is Life: Snacks for Any Occasion

Fruit Is Life: Snacks for Any Occasion

I love fruit and I love chips. There’s no mystery there.

But I also love convenience, especially when I’m out on the town or on a great hike.  And mangos don’t always fit in my purse!

How do those things go together?  Easy:  freeze dried fruit.

It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, it fits in my tiny clutch handbags and doesn’t get my hands sticky and gross on the run.

 It keeps well and its light and easy to carry. It’s the perfect snack.

Fruit sometimes gets a bad rap in the paleo community because of it’s relatively high sugar content (compared to other things most paleo folks consume).

However, fruit has been shown time and time again to improve inflammatory markers in people with chronic inflammation, provide important nutrients like Vitamin C as well as flavanoids and other anti-inflammatory compounds, is a great source of fiber, and it tastes DELISH.

It’s nature’s gift, so enjoy it.

Fresh fruit is obviously best, but there’s something wonderful about the convenience of freeze-dried that I just love.  Unlike regular dried fruit which is often coated in sugar, it’s fairly easy to find freeze dried fruit that has no added sugar.

Sugar isn’t even necessary with these delicious morsels of happiness, anyway.

And while there’s about as many brands of freeze dried fruit out there as you can imagine, these are a few of my new favorites which I have been thoroughly enjoying of late.

Jicama Chips

These jicama chips are no joke.  Did you even know they made chips from jicama?? Maybe it’s not dried “fruit” per se, but its awesome and delicious and I couldn’t write a snack post without letting you guys know about these little gems.

These particular ones are a bit spicy with chile and lime!  Yum!  Find Chile-Lime Jicama chips here.

Apple Chips

I’m also a huge fan of apple chips.  They’re so sweet/sour/yummy.  Apple is an awesome source of fiber and a lower glycemic fruit choice compared to some others.

These apple chips in particular are my fav.  They’re made from just apples and cinnamon, no added sugar.  Find Bare apple chips on Amazon here. 

Banana and Coconut Chips

Does it get much better than bananas and coconut?  This particular snack comes with dried coconut and chewy dried banana mixed together.  What a great snack with fruit, fiber, and good fats!  Find banana coconut chips here. 

Strawberry Chips

Of all the fruits, there is a very large body of evidence that strawberries are quite anti-inflammatory.  They’re also one of my favorite fruits EVER.  I like to get my dried ones from Steve’s Paleo Goods (find them here) but for freeze-dried strawberry chips, these do the trick.

Find strawberry chips here. 

I hope you all enjoy these yummy snacks!!

What are your favorite paleo snacks for on-the-go?

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

If you have PCOS, you’ve probably tried a number of things to help your health, and you probably have a number of concerns.

Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, more likely to suffer metabolic disorders and insulin-related conditions, and, alongside the extra facial hair, irregular periods, and infertility, it’s a lot to take.

I care deeply about this condition and have worked in my own way to help those who have it for many years (see my PCOS program: PCOS Unlocked)

But the more prevalent PCOS becomes, the more research is done, and new things are coming out all the time!

I’m so excited to bring you this information on L-carnitine, a very special amino acid that can help women with PCOS lose weight naturally and feel more energetic.  

L-carnitine is a nootropic amino acid found typically in meat products and milk.

Nootropics are types of supplements (like adaptogens) that work with the brain to increase it’s efficiency.  

L-carnitine helps alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, while increasing the mitochondria’s potential to burn fat.

For most people (i.e. those without PCOS) it is not a nutrient of concern and they synthesize an ample amount internally and from lysine and methionine in foods.  However, it has been found that women with PCOS are often deficient in L-carnitine, regardless of their diets.

L-carnitine improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower blood glucose, which is valuable for women with PCOS who are usually insulin resistant.  

This ability, plus the fact that PCOS women are often deficient in L-carnitine seem to make l-carnitine effective in promoting natural weight loss.  

It is also known to increase energy, lower ammonia, enhance energy during cancer treatment, improve exercise tolerance and energy in those with conditions like angina and congestive heart failure, and enhance sperm morphology, in case you were curious!

Although studies regarding weight loss with l-carnitine in general seem to find mixed benefit, studies which look at those deficient in l-carnitine or those with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome find it does help.

In fact, a recent study of PCOS only women found that compared to placebo, statistically significant weight loss occurred over 12 weeks with supplementation.

This is excellent news since it is no secret that PCOS women, with their hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically struggle to maintain a healthy weight.  

Adverse effects are rare but can include gastrointestinal disturbance, body odor, and seizures.  I’ve heard from some women that it causes a “fishy” odor in the urine, which can be unpleasant.  It may possibly interact with anticoagulants and certain thyroid medications so, like with any supplement or diet, you should get the okay from your doctor.  

Typical doses in the studies that showed weight loss benefits ranged from 500-2,000 mg a day, with 2,000 mg. a day being what was used with PCOS women.

Though the evidence for this supplement in PCOS are somewhat new, there’s enough promise that I find it interesting for PCOS ladies looking for weight loss help.  
It’s not a magic pill, and a focus on healthy dietary habits is absolutely still vital for women the PCOS.

But, one of the cool things about L-carnitine is that it is best deposited into muscles in hyperinsulinemic states, or during times when insulin is high (which is almost all the time for most PCOS women).

That means those with insulin resistant conditions would see the most benefit from supplementation.

If you’re interested in trying L-carnintine, give it at least 12 weeks of supplementation.  This is one (find l-carnitine on amazon here) I particularly like because the pills are in 1000 mg amounts so you can just take 2 a day, with meals.  

Find L-carnitine on Amazon here. 

Do you take l-carnitine and has it helped you?  What supplements are part of your PCOS routine?

 

(Here’s the citation for that study, in case you want to check it out- 

Samimi, M., Jamilian, M., Afshar Ebrahimi, F., Rahimi, M., Tajbakhsh, B., & Asemi, Z. (2016). Oral carnitine supplementation reduces body weight and insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Clinical endocrinology.)

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Fight with Food Stops Now

The Fight with Food Stops Now

Today I want to talk to you about a very sensitive and challenging issue.

It’s an issue I see constantly.  I get emails daily from women who struggle with this stuff.

And it SUCKS.

I see too many women in my life constantly battling with food and their weight.

Is that you?

If it is, I want to talk to you!

I want to talk to those of you who are constantly searching for the perfect diet, and constantly falling off the perfect diet.

Are you constantly swinging between “this time I’ve got it,” and “what the hell is wrong with me that I can’t stop eating peanut butter out of the jar?”

Are you always judging yourself based on what you ate that day or whether or not your skinny jeans fit?

Do you generally let food and weight concerns rule your world — the ups and downs of the diet-binge cycle dictating your “good” or “bad” days.

I’ve lived this stuff.

I’ve lived a life that revolved around the food I put in my mouth, the exact quantity and macronutrient profile.

I’ve lived a life of food obsession and poor self-esteem.

Isabel Foxen Duke, my friend and founder of Stop Fighting Food, calls this “feeling crazy around food.” 

Isabel is one of the most well-respected pros in the emotional eating world, contributing some very new ideas about how we can change our thought-patterns around food and weight, and finally break out of the exhausting diet-binge cycling behaviors that too many women find themselves trapped in — behaviors like, sneak-eating ice cream in the middle of the night; yo-yo dieting; emotional eating, and emotional eating’s painful cousin:binge-eating.

Many of my readers have worked with Isabel and her programs and have found her to be uniquely supportive and able to help them understand what is going on in their minds, and get back on the right track.

She’s got a wonderful, witty perspective that will keep you laughing and she drops truth bombs like nobodies business.

Isabel’s offering a free video training series this month, (Find it here) covering some of her most important concepts in changing women’s relationship with food on an emotional and psychological level.

If this is a topic that speaks to you, I highly recommend you sign up to get her free vids.

You don’t have to live your life clinging desperately to diets, only to end up with your fingers in a jar of Nutella at the end of the day.

You don’t have to live the rest of your life feeling bat-shit crazy around food.

Here’s the link again to sign up for this free training.

 

Let us know how you try to fight feeling crazy around food!

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Finally! A fitness plan that works for me

Finally! A fitness plan that works for me

Hey ladies hey!

I am writing today with more excitement than I have written a blog post in a long time.

This is because I have to share with you something that I thinkis incredibly important, and is also very close and dear to my heart.

It is this:

My most amazing friend, business partner, source of never-ending inspiration, and beloved fitness guru (“let me send you a video to show you proper form!”) Noelle Tarr is about to release a fitness program!

The reason this is so exciting to me is two fold:

1) Noelle is a powerful, talented, and inspiring woman. I am so proud of the work she’s done. I get all teary-eyed every time I think about it.

2)  One of the best things about Noelle is that she is thorough. She is smart. She cares deeply about quality. She is a freakishly freakish perfectionist. This might sometimes suck for her on a personal level (sorry Noelle!), but it means that she creates resources that work. I am excited partially because I am happy for her. But I am, even more so, excited because of how many lives she is about to change.

Noelle’s life in the fitness industry is both long and deep. She loves fitness with a passion that burns. She has been a dancer, an athlete, a runner, and a weightlifter. With so much experience (and with years worth of reading and research), she is now the queen of exercise that is safe, that is convenient, that is efficient, that feels good, and that makes you fit and strong.

So Noelle has a program. And it’s amazing. 

It’s called “Strong from Home” (check it out here) — and what it does is provide literally everything you need (once you purchase a kettlebell… that’s literally all you need) to have a kick ass fitness program right from your own home. This means, for one thing, that you can do the exercises on your own time. Morning, afternoon, or night. Sandwiched between your kids’ napping schedule. Whenever is best for you.

The exercises in Strong from Home are fast and they are efficient, so you literally only need 15 minutes to get effects some of your friends might get after a whole hour at the gym. They really get your heart pumping and feeling energetic and alive, and then you’re done, quick and with a vitalizing enerrgy.

This also means that you can choose the workouts that best suit your own needs. For example, you can tone the parts of the body you most want to focus on. You can also choose from a variety of different levels, from beginner to advanced, to suit your current fitness level.

Finally, this means that you can save a ton of money. Gym memberships are so expensive these days. Even at a YMCA or similarly budget-friendly facility, you could spend $80-$100 a month. At most gyms — and Crossfit boxes — you’re looking at $200 or more. This amounts to more than $2500 a year. Or, you could purchase a membership to Noelle’s program–which lasts forever, by the way–for just $137, and never pay a gym fee ever again.

Noelle’s program could save you $2400 in just one year. If you use it for two years, it could save you $4900! That’s about the price, by the way, of 7 round trip flights to London.

So let me tell you real quick what’s in the program. There’s lots – like I said, literally everything you need – so read all the way to the end, ok?

  1. No-Nonsense Instructional Guide – Everything you need to know about using the program and creating a framework that fits seamlessly into your life
  2. Complete Program Guide –4 done-for-you templates that map out a 12-week plan to easily follow based on your experience level
  3. Comprehensive Workout Library125+ workouts categorized by time, tools required, and type 
  4. Essential Motivational Guide – Clear and actionable steps for increasing your motivation and creating lasting habits, in case you struggle with that
  5. Go-To Exercise Visual Guide – Easy-to-follow photo examples of how to complete each exercise in the Workout Library
  6. Private Accountability Group – Private group exclusive to those following the Strong From Home program (Only in the Support + Premium Package)
  7. Day-to-Day Progress Tracker – Exactly what you need to track your workouts and progress as you implement the program (Only in the Support + Premium Package)
  8. Interactive Video Library – Exclusive membership site that contains step-by-step video tutorials for how to execute and modify each of the 75+ exercises listed in the Workout Library (Only in the Premium Package)

 

Want to see a sample video? You can here: http://paleoforwomen.com/go/strong-from-home

premium-package

 

The program is being RELEASED FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER TODAY… 

AND IT IS 25% OFF, THIS WEEK ONLY!

Get it here: http://paleoforwomen.com/go/strong-from-home

It is altogether likely that the program will never be 25% off again. This is an extraordinary discount and I personally wouldn’t wait to jump on it. Hell, I haven’t. I got it. Because it’s an incredible deal for literally the most comprehensive and best suited to me fitness program I’ve ever come across.

This is for me. I’m too busy for gyms. I’m too cheap for gyms. I want exercises that make me stronger, that support my balance when I dance, that help me bike faster, that keep me from getting winded, and that make my insulin levels nice and low and sensitive (so I can eat all the apples!).

Noelle has finally provided what I need to do just that.

So please, check it out! You can read all about it (and watch a sample video) here:

http://paleoforwomen.com/go/strong-from-home

Let me know what you think! I would love to hear if you find Noelle as charming, delightful, and knowledgeable as I do. 🙂

sfh-5

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

5 Must-Have Condiments for the Paleo Kitchen

5 Must-Have Condiments for the Paleo Kitchen

You’re a busy person, with a lot on your plate.

You’ve probably got work, or school, or kids, or all three!

And you’ve decided to eat home-cooked, wholesome food to help with your health.

Maybe you have hormonal conditions, or an autoimmune disease, maybe you want to lose weight, or clear up acne, or lower cholesterol.

No matter what the situation is that helped you decide to eat a paleo diet, the stresses of modern life effect us all.

I don’t care how much time I have on my hands.  I just do NOT want to make my own mayonnaise. 

Or ranch. 

Or ketchup. 

Or barbecue sauce. 

Whatever it is, I’ve basically got time to make my main dish and vegetable, and zero time to get fancy making condiments.

But condiments are what make food worth eating sometimes. 

I mean, a delicious ranch sauce on a chicken salad, or mayonnaise on a burger.

There’s nothing quite like it.

That’s why I’m so glad that things are changing.  It is now possible to buy great sauces and condiments online, in paleo form, made with healthy oils and ingredients, so I can sauce it up guilt-free. 

And out of the dozens of wonderful options out there, these are a few of the new favorites from Primal Kitchen I think you just gotta have in your pantry.

Primal Kitchen Mayo

This is the original, the best and the most important condiment I always keep on hand.
Store-bought mayo is made with the nastiest of the nasty ingredients- even the “olive oil” kind is usually loaded up with soybean oil or some other kind of Omega 6 rancid disaster oil.  

Mayo is eggs and fat at its core, so it’s also super strange that the store bought stuff seems to last practically forever.

And mayo is something I use in a LOT of dishes.

Primal kitchen makes theirs with delicious avocado oil.  I love the flavor MUCH more than mayo I’ve made at home with olive oil (which can come out bitter if you use EVOO), it has a definite traditional mayonnaise taste.

It’s super easy to get this stuff quickly thanks to the magic of Amazon.  Find avocado oil mayonnaise here.

Primal Kitchen Chipotle Mayo

What’s better than regular mayo?

Ummm…chipotle mayo!

This stuff is to-die-for good and makes Mexican dishes quick and easy.  It spices things up like nothing else and it’s also made from the same healthy avocado oil that the other Primal Kitchen Mayo is made from.

It’s a must-have condiment in my kitchen.  Find it here.

Primal Kitchen Ranch

When I first went paleo, I sometimes had the thought, “what is life without ranch?”

Memories of chicken nuggets, pizza, wings, and french fries dipped in the stuff swam through my head.

And, of course, it’s the best salad dressing!

But my ranch days were long behind me when I discovered Primal Kitchen’s ranch dressing. 

This was missing from paleo eating for TOO LONG and thank GOODNESS Primal Kitchen makes a healthy version. 

The options with ranch dressing are endless and not limited to lettuce covering.

I bake it in casseroles, slather it on meat, and just generally do everything short of drinking it out of the bottle.

Yum.  Find Primal Kitchen Ranch here. 

Primal Kitchen Greek

Like Greek dressing?

Me too.

And I missed it quite a bit.

I eat a LOT of salads on this paleo diet.  And olive oil/balsamic vinegar gets OLD. 

So the introduction of greek dressing back into my diet was a true variety maker!  

It’s delish!  Find it here.

Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard

Okay, so honey mustard isn’t the hardest thing in the world to make.

It’s just honey and mustard, right?

But the whole ratio thing is bothersome and having it in a bottle means its ready to go for meats and salads, quickly and easily. 

You can trust this honey mustard to be made from organic ingredients that taste delicious.

I’m a huge fan.  Find Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard on Amazon here. 

What are your go to condiments?  What do you choose to make and what do you choose to buy?

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.